On Monday August 5, 2013 history was made when the first ever "cultured beef" patty was publicly fried up and served to taste testers on British television. With its creator, Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands watching, the taste testers gave their opinion of the "cultured beef" patty. American food author Josh Schonwald stated:
"The mouthfeel is like meat. I miss the fat, there's a leanness to it, but the general bite feels like a hamburger. What was consistently different was flavour."
Hanni Rueztler an Austrian food researcher had this to say:
"I was expecting the texture to be more soft," Ruetzler said. "There is quite some intense taste; it's close to meat, but it's not that juicy. The consistency is perfect, but I miss salt and pepper."
The artificial patty was constructed from 3,000 strips of muscle tissue grown from stem cells harvested from a live beef cow and cost around $384,000 dollars to create. The cost was largely underwritten by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. While we shouldn't expect to find "cultured beef" patties on the super market shelves any time soon it brings up the question of why even do this in the first place. Post states that his interest in cultured meat is to try to address what he describes as a growing global food crisis. With 70 percent of worldwide agricultural land already being used to provide feed for livestock and the world's appetite for meat increasing Post sees this as an opportunity to help relieve some of the environmental and economic pressures created by traditional farming.
Even with good intentions one question still remains. Would you, as a consumer, eat it? We live in a world where an estimated 1.4 billion people are over weight or obese and and estimated 1 billion people are starving and going to bed hungry. Maybe the focus should be more on how to make the food surpluses in western countries available and affordable to those countries that are starving. In America alone it is estimated that the average household throws out up to 40 percent of its food uneaten while other nations starve. Maybe instead of trying to create more of something questionable we should focus on changing some of our eating habits to align better with the environment and world hunger issues.
As for me and my household...........I think we will pass on the "Frankenburger" and opt for some nice home grown veggies instead. What are your thoughts? Would you want to eat cultured beef?